Extension for Fairfield College eco centre

LIBBY WILSON
Last updated 09:31 06/05/2014
the fairfield project
Supplied/The Fairfield Project.

ECOLOGY HUB: A sustainable education centre is proposed for Fairfield College land which may otherwise be sold.

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Further investigations into a sustainable education centre at Fairfield College will go ahead now the group proposing it has extra time.

The Fairfield Project group hastily pulled together a plan for a science and ecology-based education centre after hearing the school might have to sell off surplus land if it couldn't find an educational use.

The group has now been given seven more months to flesh out the proposal by the college's board of trustees, which considered it last week.

"The news is very good. The board of trustees have asked us to push on with the proposal, to do a proper feasibility study," Fairfield Project steering committee chairman Vic Arcus said.

Members of the Fairfield Project group attended the board meeting and were delighted with the outcome, the biology professor said. "Then they [the board] will have a really rigorous proposal to consider and also to potentially take to the Ministry of Education."

In another bonus for the Fairfield Project group, it will gain a board of trustees representative. "We're really delighted and we're delighted to be working alongside the board to get a fully-fledged proposal together," Arcus said.

The quality of the proposal impressed the board of trustees but the decision was not easy, Fairfield College principal Richard Crawford said.

The outcome of the feasibility study would determine whether the board supported the project or not.

"The whole board was impressed, there's no doubt about that. In terms of the goodwill and this [proposal] is a professional piece of work that's been produced," he said.

"We've got a lot of goodwill coming to the table to try and make it happen but obviously there are some details that need to be worked out."

Matters of who would be responsible for resourcing, maintenance and management needed to be looked into, and the board was determined to make an informed decision.

Its main consideration would be whether the proposal would further educational opportunities for Fairfield College students, but other secondary schools would use the centre if it went ahead, he said. What had really excited the board was the "mobilisation" of the community around the project.

"That's exciting to have this group of community people who want to get involved in the school," Crawford said.

And the idea has already won the support of Labour candidate for Hamilton East Dr Cliff Allen, who said he would follow it with interest.

"I think it's fantastic. It looks like it could be a real world-leading project."

Finding around $20,000 funding for the feasibility study and setting out a plan of action will be the Fairfield Project group's next steps.

Current plans for the centre include a low environmental impact building largely powered by renewable energy, with an administration centre, seminar and teaching rooms, and teaching courtyards.

It would also make the most of its site near the Kukutaruhe Gully through teaching areas in it and on the uplands.

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- Waikato

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